Moore v. Harper Supreme Court case explained

One Eastern North Carolina Political Science expert breaks down Moore vs. Harper Supreme Court Case
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 7:07 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on a North Carolina case that could upend electoral politics and allow state legislatures to act without judicial oversight.

Moore v. Harper centers on the independent state legislator theory. The case was filed after the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down a Republican-drawn congressional district map.

Republicans filed an appeal asking the high court to embrace this legal theory. If the justices accept that argument, the decision could have a wide-ranging impact on an array of election issues.

WITN spoke to political science experts about how the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Moore v. Harper could determine future elections.

North Carolina’s fight over voting rights and gerrymandering is in the national spotlight.

Michael Struett, NC State University political science chair, says it is unclear what the court will decide at this moment but that if the ruling is in opposition of Moore, it will be more consistent in the way this clause of the constitution has been historically interpreted.

“Legislative maps, particularly the ones for the U.S. federal Congress that had been adopted to the 2020 census, were unfair and invalid under the North Carolina Constitution, largely because it was sort of an extreme, large partisan gerrymander,” Struett said.

If the ruling is in favor, Struett says that means, “The state legislature would be sort of the supreme decider of everything, and there would be no role for governors and vetoing specific legislation or for the state Supreme Court or other courts of North Carolina to rule on whether or not the state legislature was acting in an appropriate way.”

And if not, “It would maintain the balance of power between the legislature and the court, but if they do what they seem to do and are inclined to do, it really will create a strange area in federal election law where the courts won’t be involved at all, and I think nobody really knows how that would work,” Struett says.

Regardless of the outcome, the court’s ruling will play a huge role in the future of election laws.

“It would definitely change the way U.S. elections laws would work permanently and forever if they invalidate the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision,” Struett says. “This court has done some radical things already.”

The political science professor says he is unsure what exactly will happen as the U.S. Supreme Court only needs 4 votes to hear a case and 5 votes to decide on a case.

Other political science experts say the effect would help Republicans in North Carolina, but it would also likely help Democrats in blue states, where state courts have previously limited the ability of Democrats to engage in partisan gerrymanders.